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M1918 Ford 3-ton tank

The Ford 3-ton tank, also known as the Ford Model 1918 (M1918) was one of the first tank designs by the U.S. It was a small two-man, one-gun tank. Essentially the first tankette, it was armed with an M1917 Marlin machine gun, later an M1919 Browning machine gun, and could reach a maximum speed of 8 mph (13 km/h). The 3-ton had a 17-US-gallon (64 L) tank that gave it a maximum range of 34 miles (55 km).


Design on the 3-ton tank started in mid-1917, before which American tank forces had been largely equipped with British or French examples. The 3-ton was a two-man tank designed so that American forces could use another tank besides the Renault FT in battle, and was designed around the FT but as a cheaper alternative. Its two Ford Model T engines were controlled by the driver, seated at the front with a gunner beside him who had control of a .30-06 (7.62×63mm) machine gun (either an M1917 Marlin machine gun or M1919 Browning machine gun) on a limited-traverse mount (21 degrees) with approximately 550 rounds of ammunition.

The initial production run of the 3-ton was of fifteen vehicles; one of these was sent to France for testing in October 1918. Some of the vehicles were tested in France as 75mm artillery tractors from January 1919.

A contract for 15,000 of these vehicles was awarded; however, the U.S. tank corps felt it did not meet the requirements they wanted. The contract for the 15,000 tanks was ended by the Armistice, leaving only the fifteen original vehicles produced.

The French Army evaluated the Ford 3-ton tank and thought it inferior to the native Renault FT. However, the 3-ton tank was seen to have potential as a cheap, light, all-terrain artillery tractor, especially for batteries of the Canon de 75 modèle 1897. One thousand five-hundred 3-ton tanks were ordered from Ford but the Armistice occurred before any were delivered and the order was cancelled.

A larger three-man version with a 37mm gun in a turret was ordered to address the failings of the 3-Ton tank


  • There are two known survivors; one is at the U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection at Fort Benning, Georgia; the other is with the Ordnance Collection at Fort Lee, Virginia.

See also

  • Mark VIII tank
  • Renault FT
  • Tanks of the United States
  • History of the tank
  • History of Ford Motor Company
  • List of Ford vehicles


  • Hogg, I.V.; Weeks, J. (1980). The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Military Vehicles.
  • Chamberlain, Peter; Ellis, Chris (2002) [1972]. Tanks of the World 1915-1945. Cassell.

External links

  • Ford 3-Ton tank(1918)
  • "Ford-M1918-WWI-Tank - Vehicles". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  • "Ford Model 1918 3-ton (M1918) Light Tank Combat Vehicle". Retrieved 18 August 2017.


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